Zambia China Friendship Association (ZCFA) has noted with concern the escalation of multi-pronged attacks on the Zambia-China all weather friendship. This does not come as a surprise to us. The elevation of Zambia-China bilateral ties to the status of Comprehensive and Strategic Cooperative Partnership during the meeting between President Hakainde Hichilema and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing last September, has unsettled those who are in the habit of wanting to divide loyal friends.
The truth of the matter is that China's contribution to Zambia's economic development and security is something that cannot be wished away. It is a reality of life. This is an unbreakable friendship because it is based on sincerity and mutual benefits. The earlier this fact is recognized and accepted the better for everyone.
Contrary to the wishes of naysayers, Zambia-China bilateral ties are growing stronger and stronger by the day. During his first official visit to China, President Hichilema spent almost a week visiting various provinces, a courtesy extended to only a few heads of state. By the end of the visit, about 17 Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) were signed between the two governments, signifying growing bilateral ties.
The Agreements signed by the two governments are now at various stages of actualization. We have since seen a flurry of exchange visits between Lusaka and Beijing, signifying the commitment of both our governments to translating these Agreements into reality for the benefit of our two peoples. No doubt, many of these Agreements once fully implemented will contribute to Zambia's economic growth and general welfare of its people.
We are also aware that the government of China remains a vital and active partner to Zambia's debt restructuring process. This is highly anticipated by all well-meaning peoples because of the impact it will have on unlocking Zambia's resources for growth and development.
China continues to show its commitment to Zambia's welfare in many ways. Currently, the Chinese government and Chinese business community in Zambia have been among the first partners to come to Zambia's assistance in the on-going fight against the cholera pandemic. The Chinese business community have shown that they care about the plight of the communities in which they do business.
We are not oblivious of the several areas of misunderstandings between the Chinese business community, the local companies and the Zambian government, but we are happy to note that these are a subject of on-going dialogue among the parties.
If we take the construction sector, which has attracted the attention of some interest groups, for example, a few pertinent observations can be made. First, the construction market in Zambia is in rapid development, with diversified demand on different service providers, both local and international. We know that Zambian contractors have made representation to the government on how they could increase their share of the market. Government, on the other hand, already has some policy instruments in place to respond to the concerns of local contractors. We think this may be a matter of enforcement of what has been agreed on rather than anything else.
Second, it is important to note that Zambia is a free and open market. The authorities recognize the role of foreign direct investments to augment local capital formation, and the government, through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) is working tirelessly to grow the portfolio of both local and foreign capital. It is important therefore that local companies confront competition rather than fear it.
Last, but not least, any person remotely familiar with the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Zambia, will have to acknowledge the immense contribution of China to the growth of this country's infrastructure sector. This is evident in the various sectors such as education, transport, energy and health sectors. Zambia today has two world class airports, a new hydroelectricity power station, several hospitals and an expanding road network, thanks to the BRI.
In conclusion, we are confident that many of the issues that foreign media deliberately seeks to distort, are already matters of on-going dialogue, and are already receiving due attention. We believe this is the spirit of building a global community with a shared future for mankind.